Starmount volleyball dominates East Wilkes

By Kristian Russell -
Autumn Whitaker puts a serve in play for the Lady Rams. - Kristian Russell | The Ripple
Danella Murgia had an ace and kill for the Lady Rams. - Kristian Russell | The Ripple

BOONVILLE — The Starmount Lady Rams volleyball team continued its dominating conference play on Tuesday night, as it hosted the East Wilkes Lady Cardinals. Starmount came out strong from the opening set to the final whistle and was able to sweep East Wilkes 3-0 (25-8,25-20,25-15) to take a Mountain Valley Athletic Conference win.

Throughout the match, Starmount was able to maintain solid footing to take the win. In the first set, the Lady Rams put their foot on the gas and never let off. Kayla Vanhoy gave Starmount a 2-0 lead with a hard kill down the left line.

East Wilkes put their own spin on the next few plays, as Aubri Smithey put down two kills to pull the Cardinals within one point. Although East Wilkes cut the lead 3-2, Starmount didn’t let the offensive stance by East Wilkes deter them for more than one play.

Starmount came out with an upbeat tempo and went on a rally that saw the Lady Rams put down several kills and blocks. Vanhoy knocked down a kill, which was followed up with a tip by Abbey Johnson putting Starmount ahead of East Wilkes 6-3.

Starmount’s rally was broken up as Aubrey Wallis was set up by Brooke Ward for a kill. Although East Wilkes broke one rally, the Rams were able to take back the next point and continue their uphill momentum.

Maddie Norman put down a hard hit from the middle spot which landed just in front of the out line on the left side. Norman’s hit gave Starmount a 12-6 lead over the visiting Cardinals. From there, things went smoothly for Starmount until they reached set point.

Emma Freed came up with a block and a kill, while Vanhoy had three kills in a row. The final East Wilkes point of the set, came from a kill by Smithey who was set up by Brooke Ward. East Wilkes was able to cut Starmount’s lead to 11 points, but the Cardinals could not dig themselves out of the hole.

The Lady Rams went on to put down the final six points with a kill and an ace from Freed, two kills from Vanhoy and a kill and a block by Karli Brown. The Rams were sitting in prime position as they took a 25-8 win in the first set.

In the second set, Starmount kept up its momentum while East Wilkes was able to also pick up its tempo. The first play was a long one for both teams, as Elizabeth Cartwright had two blocks in a row for Starmount, which the Cardinals were able to handle. East Wilkes’ Aubrey Wallis and Ward were able to come up with digs out of the net.

As the ball came over to Starmount’s side of the net for the third time during the play, Cambria Bowen passed the ball to Johnson who set the ball up to Vanhoy for a kill down the line. Starmount earned the first point of the set and took a 1-0 lead over East Wilkes.

Starmount kept drilling that ball for several plays until the Cardinals were able to tie the set 5-5 off of an ace by Ward. East Wilkes was hoping to build off the tie and take the lead, but the Lady Rams were able to battle back and break the tie as Freed knocked the ball down for a kill.

Both teams put down hard plays over the course of the set. East Wilkes was able to tie the set for a second time, when Wallis killed the ball for a 10-10 score. The tie would be the last time East Wilkes would be able to stick with the Rams in the set, as Starmount took the lead and never looked back.

The Rams were able to accumulate six kills and three aces to see the set out. During the set, senior Danella Muragia came off the bench and immediately had an impact for the Rams. Murgia had an ace and kill to give Starmount a 20-16 lead over East Wilkes.

Another player that came off the bench and made a her appearance with a bang, was Autumn Whitaker, who put down two aces for the Rams and had three vital digs which set up the Rams for additional points. The second set was brought to a close off of one of Whitaker’s digs, as she passed the ball to Johnson who then tipped the ball over the net for the 25-20 win.

As the final set approached, East Wilkes struggled to pick up its tempo while the Rams were sitting in the driver’s seat. The Cardinals scored 15 points in the final set — four points came from kills, while one point was from a block and one was from an ace. The rest of the Cardinals’ points were scored by Starmount making mistakes. The Rams earned the win with 10 kills, three blocks and five aces. As the final point was scored, Starmount took a 25-15 win to sweep East Wilkes, 3-0.

With the win, Starmount moves to 6-3 in the conference and 11-7 overall. The Rams sit in third place in the MVAC, behind Alleghany (9-1) and West Wilkes (9-1). The Cardinals are now 2-7 in the conference and 2-13 overall. East Wilkes is in seventh place in the MVAC.

Autumn Whitaker puts a serve in play for the Lady Rams. Whitaker puts a serve in play for the Lady Rams. Kristian Russell | The Ripple

Danella Murgia had an ace and kill for the Lady Rams. Murgia had an ace and kill for the Lady Rams. Kristian Russell | The Ripple

By Kristian Russell